Create an Effective Study Space Quickly and Inexpensively

Create an Effective Study Space Quickly and Inexpensively

If you follow me on Instagram (and you should), you’ve seen my less-than-glamorous workspace. I am currently typing this on a folded kitchen table that has served as my desk for the last 10 years. Fancy, it is not. Heck, it’s barely functional.

It is tiny – maybe 2×3. On top, I have one skinny lamp, a picture frame, and a mug with pens. Did I mention that my table-turned-desk doesn’t have any drawers for storage? To make it even better, for most of those 10 years, my desk was shoved into a small corner of my bedroom.

Nevertheless, I wrote trees worth of papers, studied for countless tests, and completed two Masters degrees on this desk. I managed to create a study space that worked for me, in a small space and on a tight budget. (Spoiler alert – new teachers don’t make a lot of money.) By getting creative, you can, too.

How to Create an Effective Study Space

An effective study space is a necessity, a place where you or your teen can work in peace and quiet. That quiet allows the brain to focus on studying.  Study spaces don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. You really only require a few things:

A private or semi-private space.

As an adult, I have the luxury of a private bedroom. However, growing up my room was too small to even put in a desk. I studied in the living room when I was home alone. When other people were home, I retreated to the basement.

The main reason you need your study space to be at least partially private is to get rid of distractions. Trying to study for a test in the middle of the kitchen while surrounded by family is a bad idea.

Think outside of the box –do you have a closet that isn’t really being used? What about a strangely large landing at the top of the stairs? The end of the basement great room? A formal living room that is never used? These are all possible places to set up a small desk and chair. If there is no private space in your house, figure out times when certain rooms are at least quiet.

Side Note: Speaking of distractions, you have a major one in your pocket. In fact, you might be reading this post right now on it! Your phone, my friend. TURN IT OFF when you study!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Your phone is a major distraction; turn it OFF when you’re studying!” quote=”Your phone is a major distraction; turn it OFF when you’re studying!”]

The constant pinging and buzzing of text messages, Snapchats, and comments on your Insta profile will take your focus away every single time. You can be in the quietest room ever, but if your phone is on, you won’t get work done. Set the phone to airplane mode and get to work. Check it every 30 minutes if you must.

Good lighting

Trying to read a textbook in low light is almost impossible. Low lighting also leads to naps. Even if the space has no natural light (think basement or closet), bring in some lamps!  A girl (or boy or gender neutral person) needs to see.


Your space should be comfortable, but not comfortable. (There is a scene in Breaking Bad when Walter is about to meet Saul Goodman, his corrupt ambulance-chasing lawyer, for the first time. Jesse, Walter’s partner-in-crime brings Walt to see Saul. Walter asks, “Why would I want a bad lawyer?” Jesse responds, “You don’t want a bad lawyer. You want a bad lawyer.” I totally thought of that when writing the previous sentence!)

Your bed is a bad place to study – a bed covered with pillows is just an invitation for a nap. Too dang comfy. The couch? Same problem. All you need is a flat surface to write on, a chair that doesn’t kill your back, and the room needs to stay at a decent temperature.


If your teacher expects you to draw or color something (Yes, that happens in high school. I assigned that type of homework all the time!), you will waste precious time hunting for markers all around the house. Instead, corral those supplies in your study space.

The dollar store can be your friend for bins and caddies. Or look around your house for boxes or plastic containers to store items. (Don’t underestimate the power of an aluminum can covered with pretty paper.) Supplies to include: filler paper, printer paper, pencils, pens, markers or colored pencils, a pair of scissors, ruler, calculator, and glue.

Check out the caddy I created for under $10!

Keep it Inexpensive

Creating an effective study space doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. In fact, it can be done for free by shopping your own home. Sad desk in the basement that’s never used? It is NOW. The lamp in your sister’s room that she hates? Guess who it belongs to now? You.

Here are some other ways to keep it cheap:

  • Check out yard sales or Goodwill for steals on desks. It doesn’t need to be beautiful, just functional. If you must buy a new desk, I recommend Ikea. They have a lot of small, inexpensive options.
  • Use a bookcase as a desk. (I did this for a while!) One shelf was extra deep, allowing space for my monitor and keyboard. I am positive you can find DIY hacks on the internet.
  • You can always buy small, inexpensive lamps at yard sales, Goodwill, Target, or Wal-Mart.
  • Instead of a fixed study space, travel around the house to quiet rooms and use the tables and chairs already in the room. For example, you might use the kitchen table when your siblings are at practice and then the basement family room after dinner. Take a study caddy or cart with you that holds your supplies and even a small lamp.

Create your new effective study space and post a pic on Instagram with the hashtag #lptutoring! 

Related Posts: How to Organize Your Desk for Productivity, Build a Better Study Space at IkeaHow to Create a Homework CaddyCompletely Change Your Studying with a Study Plan, 6 Study Strategies Every Student Should Know

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